We all know that breastfeeding gives your baby the best start in life but not every mum takes to it straight away and if you experience problems in the early days who do you turn to?
Thanks to two colleagues from Mid Sussex with a nursing and health visitor background there is a network of Baby Cafés both here and abroad to give mums the guidance and help they need.
A ‘Baby Café’ is not a formal café in the literal sense but a drop-in event usually held on a weekly basis at a prime town or village location where breastfeeding mums can get together, share problems and ideas and ask a breastfeeding specialist for help and advice.
Catherine Pardoe, who set up the Baby Café concept with Julie Williams 13 years ago, said: “Ninety per cent of women who stop breastfeeding in the first six weeks want to continue for longer and so Baby Café is there to help women continue to feed for as long as they wish.
“We know that mums continue to breastfeed when they get the right help and information at the right time and when they can be with other breastfeeding mums.”
The first Baby Café began in Haywards Heath with Department of Health funding in 2000.
Since then, the concept has grown, with more than 100 Baby Cafés in the UK and 30 overseas.
Catherine and Julie have trained countless volunteer mums to become peer supporters to give mothers new to breastfeeding the confidence to carry on.
Their initiative has quickly caught on and from humble beginnings the Baby Café concept has blossomed into an international success story.
Catherine said: “The Baby Café was set up as an independent charity and it is now part of the NCT.
“The merger in 2010 has helped us to grow the network more effectively and 13 years after the first Baby Café was set up in Haywards Heath we have come full circle and re-opened in Mid Sussex.”
A Baby Café alternates on a weekly basis between Hurstpierpoint and Hassocks every Monday.
The venues are: Hurstpierpoint’s Village Community Centre (9.30am to 11.30am) and the United Reformed Church in Hassocks (12 to 2pm).
The next event is at Hurstpierpoint on Monday, February 11 and anyone new to the drop-in will be given a warm welcome.
Catherine and Julie celebrated the return of Baby Café to Mid Sussex with a cake-cutting ceremony at Hassocks United Reformed Church last month and they invited peer supporter Rachel Blackley to cut the first slice.
Rachel is a mother of three who has been involved with the project since she had her second child, aged 21.
She said, quite simply: “Baby Café has made me the mother I am today.”
Julie Williams added: “The growth of Baby Café network across the world has been beyond all our expectations. To us this means thousands of mums are getting the breastfeeding support they deserve.”
You can meet Rachel, Catherine and Julie at the Baby Café as well as other peer supporters and a breastfeeding counsellor from La Leche League, an international charity which promotes breastfeeding. Catherine and Julie’s work complements other breastfeeding support services in the area.
For more on the Mid Sussex Baby Café and the work of Baby Café both here and abroad, visit: www.thebabycafe.org
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Weather for Haywards Heath
Wednesday 22 May 2013
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